The Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, Police Department (CMPD) will replace two aging vehicles in its fleet. On July 10, the Charlotte City Council approved the purchases of a new bomb truck and helicopter. The replacements are crucial; one of the vehicles -- the bomb truck, responds to incidents in 10 counties in the region.
Updating Mission-Critical Equipment
Since 2020, the police department's Bomb Squad has received 315 calls for service, and the bomb truck has been deployed 85 times, according to a press release. The new bomb truck will replace the department’s current bomb truck, which is over 20-years-old and has multiple mission-critical items that are broken or unserviceable.
The new truck will also come with numerous safety features that are not available on other similar types of vehicles.
In addition to responding to bomb threat or suspicious package calls for service, CMPD’s bomb truck is used for explosive disposal operations, chemical or biological hazard calls for services, monthly trainings, SWAT barricades, major sporting events, dignitary escorts, and community engagement events.
The vehicle is a regional asset that serves not just Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, but also the other 10 counties within the region where CMPD currently is the primary bomb squad response unit.
Because of this, CMPD receives Urban Area Security Initiative Program (UASI) funding through the state of North Carolina in the amount of $460,000 and funding through the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture in the amount of $540,000 that will be applied to the purchase.
Eyes in the Skies Over Charlotte
The Charlotte City Council also approved the capital purchase of a new helicopter to replace a 25-year-old Bell helicopter in the Aviation Unit’s fleet.
The recommended replacement cycle for one of these helicopters is eight years. Older helicopters require more repairs and updates.
The current helicopter will be used as a partial exchange for the new helicopter, reducing the sale price by approximately $1,375,000. With the exchange, the actual expenditure is estimated to be $5,254,861.
The helicopter will be used by CMPD’s Aviation Unit during missing person searches, search and rescue operations, emergency medical evacuations, vehicle and foot pursuits, suspect searches, critical incidents, and command and control functions including live video and aerial photography.
In 2022, CMPD’s Aviation Unit responded to 2,153 requests for aircraft assistance and had more than 350 direct arrests for charges including armed robbery, sexual assault, shooting into an occupied dwelling, and auto thefts.